The following article offers a personal story about fatherhood influences and the daily practice of virtues….
By Greg Clarke – meditation teacher, seminar leader and co-founder of Living Peace.
When I was a young boy, my Dad had a positive impact on me in so many ways.
He was responsible, respectful and had many virtuous behaviours radiating from within him. He was by no means a saint, however he dedicated himself to serving his family with an honourable and truthful attitude.
My Dad demonstrated to me scores of virtues. Virtues that I wanted to embody when I became a father – virtues such as reliability, patience and cleanliness. He also offered a few behaviours that I felt I may approach differently when I became a father.
The power of an adult presence
The main thing I remember are the times he was present with me and my family. Whether we were playing in the backyard while he was mowing the lawn, or riding bikes around when he was in his beloved garage. The feeling of his presence was tangible and, without realising its impact at the time, I felt exceedingly safe and loved.
This presence was the focus of my fathering and it became even more apparent even before I became a dad. When still in my teen years, I was drawn to interacting with and nurturing my girlfriend’s nieces and nephews. I remembered how the presence and positive attention of a grown-up made me feel when I was a kid and I believed this was something I could pass on. The upside for me was that usually I had more fun interacting with my nieces and nephews than many of the adult conversation I may have been involved in!
Becoming a father
When my days as a father to Jacob and Amy began, I felt I was not an overly virtuous or spiritual man. But as time went on, I became more interested in these aspects of life. I discovered that part of my role as a dad centred around guiding and directing my children in worldly matters. I wanted to embody behaviours and practices that came from a place beyond my earthly responsibilities.
By picturing the father I wanted to be, I was encouraged to strive towards the principles I believed in to establish our family values. To live a life that was peaceful and spiritually connected, as well as being fully involved in the practical and day-to-day aspects of parenting. I figured the best way to do this was to be peaceful, be spiritual and be involved in everything my role as a father offered – from joining committee’s at the kids pre-school, to coaching the cricket team at the local public school.
Children learn from our actions
The experience of fathering with a focus on my moral and spiritual role, and developing a set of family values based on virtues, has led me to believe that the beautiful little people who came to lead me and be led by me, see who I am, by the way I live, and not by what I say about how I live.
Children (from toddlers to teenagers) as part of our family, along with the children we engage with in our extended family and community – hear and see and learn from what we do, and who we are (far more than from what we preach).
As I strive to honour and continue to explore virtues, it appears to be having some effect on the growing souls in my life. As I uncover and practise the spiritual tools of fathering, the way I feel as a father is somehow harmonious with all aspects of my life. When each action I undertake and each word I utter originates from truth and virtue, I believe I am being the best father I am capable of being.
Being a father is a blessing
With each day that I am blessed to occupy the role of a father, I will rejoice.
To walk alongside and support the divine children in my care to find their way in the world, is the greatest gift. I will continue to father at my very best – with my whole heart, my whole my mind, with all my strength, and all my soul, to build harmonious family. Being involved with embrace virtues has helped me to focus and refine my approach to virtues education with my family.
About Greg Clarke
Greg Clarke (Hanuman Das) teaches meditation, self inquiry and is a writer and author on integrating spirituality into daily life. He and Ginny Clarke founded Living Peace to help people remember their true selves.
or visit website: www.livingpeaceyoga.com
Tools for Fathering
Greg is one of the fathers involved in a facilitated discussion among dads about their experience of fatherhood. The insights from this discussion can be found on the embrace virtues Tools for Fathering CDs: